Politics & Law

Running for re-election as Executioner in Chief

Jonathan Simon

Ohio is fast becoming one of the the nation’s leaders in executions, surpassing every state but the unapproachable champion, Texas, in the past two years according to the New York Times (read Bob Dreihaus reporting here). With half a dozen executions this year so far, I was wondering just what was up in the Buck-eye state. It turns out Democrat Strickland is in a tough battle for re-election in a traditionally Republican state. Ever since Bill Clinton returned to Arkansas to boost his presidential primary chances by executing Ricky Rector back in ’92, Democratic governors have viewed execution as their secret weapon to improve their political position by proving their mettle as crime warriors. With Ohio suffering through its worst economy since the Great Depression, Strickland has little else to run on.

Lucky Ted has yet another chance to mount the scaffold before election day with the execution of Kevin Keith on September 15. The only problem is, according to Dreihaus’ reporting, lots of people think Keith is innocent, including Republicans as well as Democrats, former prosecutors, police officers, and judges. The governor’s aides promise that he will give the clemency file his usual careful assessment in deciding what to do. Given his record, it is very likely he will also be giving the polls a careful look.

Cross-posted from Jonathan Simon’s Governing through Crime site.

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